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By: UT Extension Brenda Hannah – FCS

While safe fire practices are faithfully observed in most households, the safety of the fireplace’s spouse – the chimney is often neglected. Chimneys that are not inspected and properly maintained can result in fires.

A chimney’s health and cleanliness is crucial to the safe functioning of a fireplace. It is responsible for conducting fire byproducts out of the home, byproducts such as gases, smoke, water vapor, and unburned wood particles. As these elements travel from the hot fireplace through the somewhat less hot chimney, they create condensation that leaves behind a residue known as creosote. This residue may be black or brown, sticky or shiny, crusty, or hard. Regardless of its appearance, it is extremely combustible; when it builds up in quantity and the temperature is high, a chimney fire can result. It is important to note that restricted air supply and the use of unseasoned firewood more readily promote creosote.

It is possible for a slow-burning chimney fire to escape detection, all the while damaging the chimney structure and integrity. On the other hand, frightening conflagrations are common among poorly maintained chimneys, with chimney fire victims describing a rumbling noise like that of a freight train at the onset of the fire. To ensure a chimney is safe, schedule an annual inspection and cleaning with a certified chimney sweep.

The U.T Extension Office of Moore County offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, age, national origin, veteran status, or disability.

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